Recently I chatted with Lucas Canzona of Sound of Change to explore how his organization operates in a world inundated with causes and appeals for social change.
Their May 16th showcase at Adelaide Hall (in Toronto) in support of Raise the Village simultaneously benefits a worthy cause and offers a diverse array of local artists: The Elwins, Fast Romantics, Aukland, John River and Iris. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased online.
What appeals to you about Raising the Village?
I came across Raising the Village in kind of a strange way, I was home from school and Shawn [Cheung] was featured talking about his organization on tv.
It appealed to me in that it doesn’t just apply a “band aid” solution to a problem, but instead it works with local leaders to address and solve problems at a local level and enables them to do it on their own, within their own communities.
Given that Raising the Village is a community based organization: does that sense of community translate at Sound of Change events?
Not necessarily, most people would come to these shows regardless of a cause or not. We are on the level of focusing on the music first and foremost. We pick bands and artists who are doing big and exciting things in the music scene right now, so we try and connect with them and showcase them when we can.
Our aim is mostly to connect with local artists and promote them as best we can.
Is dedicating showcases to non-profits like Raising the Village enabling activists to form a stronger community at a local level?
A lot of the time were pairing bands who would not normally play together; a lot of these shows feature a headliner who was a lot of name recognition and touring experience outside of North America and pair them with bands with local experience.
To find local bands we usually source our connections, so the experience is a little more personal. I think finding local bands and giving them a chance to connect with new people creates a greater sense of community for them.
Will the diverse lineup on May 16 appeal to a wider audience for Raising a Village?
Generally our shows have a specific focus, like indie rock or hard rock, Friday night is the first time we’ve ever tried the music festival model.
We wanted to diversify the lineup more than we normally do, the fact that we have a hip hop set and a dj set on the bill is the type of diversity that is really positive in the end. I’ve noticed that with some organizations they will see a disaster happen, organize a benefit show and then nothing will happen.
With Sound of Change we get to do something that has longevity and will continue to benefit the cause. There aren’t a lot of organizations who do benefit concerts and continue on with the organization, Sound of Change gets to flip the equation so that we put on a show and keep the relationship going with the organization.
Given that we are somewhat socially desensitized to charitable causes, and taught to view social media or arts based initiatives as a form of “slacktivism” how do you combat that sentiment and maintain integrity and dedication to social causes through music?
We really only work organizations we can trust and who have a good reputation for acting and distributing funds internationally.
We also like to diversify our causes so that more than one cause can benefit from the sustainable way in which we fund raise. Raising the Village is a similarly sustainable, Toronto organization and we know their history and the group well enough to know they are going to do good things with the profits.
We research each organization to make sure they know what they are doing with the funds we give them.
We specialize in music and we will allow organizations that we trust to take our money and do good things with those profits because that is there specialty.
How do you see Sound of Change evolving in the next couple of years?
My opinion and view of where its going to go is literally changing every week as we get going and go along. Being in the music industry is first and foremost our direction.
We constantly want to work with new people and artists as we go and build those connections. We want to promote new artists but we also want to be an organization that is well known and respected, we wanted to be trusted by the artists who will work with us.
Literally I feel like next week my opinion would be different, but overall I hope for a steady pattern of growth, were relatively new but I think there is a huge opportunity for us to grow in different ways.
Are you made more hopeful by your ability to align social causes and music?
We think what we do is fairly sustainable and has room to grow. There is certainly room for us to grow in the music industry in terms of who we are working with and what we can achieve with them. This is a foundation stage, but going forward we want to make it as sustainable as possible.
Admittedly, I am the type of person who is wary of the social validity of benefit shows, and how those profits are being used, but after speaking with Lucas I’m excited to come out on May 16 and show my support.
All profits from tickets sold tomorrow will go directly to Raise the Village, and you can be assured in knowing that this organization will effectively distribute that money at a local level.
Beyond that, May 16th represents a unique opportunity to bridge global communities through non profit and music.
On one hand, you will be able to explore a vast array of genre and sound and on the other, you are an active rather than “slacktive” part of promoting social change on the global scale.